by Elisabeth Zarnoti '17
The Knox Student, Knox College's student-produced newspaper, received a record-breaking 20 awards from the Illinois College Press Association (ICPA) for achievements in undergraduate journalism. The ICPA awards, announced in February at the organization's annual conference in Chicago, honored the achievements of college papers throughout the state from winter, spring, and fall 2016.
Among the students who attended the conference was Rachel Landman ‘17, editor-in-chief of TKS. She attributes the paper's success, particularly with regard to its first-place award for general excellence, to the consistency of high-performing student writers, editors, and multimedia journalists.
"Being successful in that award in particular depends on everyone working together to produce high-quality issues every week. I feel incredibly lucky to work with such a talented, generous, and enjoyable group of people," said Landman, a creative writing major.
TKS advisor Tom Martin said that winning general excellence, where judges evaluate three random issues of publications for the quality of articles and layout, means that it was the best small college newspaper in Illinois in 2016.
"Excellence is not new to the newspaper. Led by exceptional editors, TKS continues to build on its successes," said Martin. "To have the most awards in school history along with the general excellence award is gratifying." Martin, who is editor of Galesburg's daily newspaper, The Register-Mail, has been the TKS advisor since 2009.
Several of the TKS awards came in the division of non-daily newspapers with a student body of less than 4,000. In addition to general excellence, TKS took home first-place awards for front page layout, column writing, feature story, spot news photo, sports feature, and sports news story.
Two accolades given to the staff—in recognition for multimedia journalism and the online news site—were in the open division, which includes all college papers in the state (both daily and non-daily).
TKS has a history of performing well in state and national journalism contests. It was recognized nationally by the Associated Collegiate Press in 2015 and 2016 and was named a finalist for the Associated Collegiate Press Pacemaker Award in 2014.
Knox College's focus on critical thinking and writing has served as a springboard to help TKS staffers develop their journalistic skills.
"Being curious and asking questions about how and why things work the way they do are crucial to being successful in the field," said Landman.
Looking forward, Martin and Landman expect the paper's success to endure.
"TKS will continue its ascent. The newspaper grew from winning some state awards to dominating the state contest and earning national awards. I expect more of the same," said Martin.
Landman is also confident in TKS' ability to continue producing quality writing and reporting.
"Getting awards is certainly not why we produce TKS, though, or what we aim for when we're working. The goal of TKS has been and will continue to be to inform the campus and tell stories that otherwise wouldn't be heard for members of our community," she said.